Monday, July 07, 2008

Not looking good . . .


Just a few days after the Garnaut preliminary report comes this story.

Growing calls to delay emissions trading

7th July 2008

Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has backed away from emissions trading any time soon, warning it would be “economic suicide” for Australia to go it alone.

The coalition made a pre-election promise to introduce emissions trading in 2012, but Dr Nelson today refused to stand by that and said he had not made up his mind when the scheme should start.

Dr Nelson wants the focus to be on a global solution to climate change, and has urged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to be a “human blowtorch” on the issue at this week's G8 meeting in Japan.

The federal government appears to have its own doubts about a quick start to emissions trading, which will levy a tax on carbon pollution and force up prices for some goods.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has downgraded the government's promised 2010 start date to an “ambition”.

“Well look (the 2010 start date) is the ambition and we've said that before the election,” she told Fairfax radio.

“That is the intention ... that is what we have said we will do.”

There are growing calls for emissions trading to be delayed due to concerns about price rises, and concerns by business and electricity generators that they will suffer.

Dr Nelson said Australia should only start emissions trading when the rest of the world was ready to follow suit.

“It will be an act of environmental suicide, an act of economic suicide, if Australia were to be so far in front of the world implementing an ill-considered ... emissions trading scheme, if we haven't got a genuinely global response,” Dr Nelson said.

Dr Nelson wants Mr Rudd to take action at the G8 meeting.

“Now he's actually going to be able to eyeball these people,” Dr Nelson told reporters.

“And he ought to be a human blowtorch and put direct pressure on them to actually commit to a global response to climate change.”

Mr Rudd hit back at Dr Nelson's doubts about emissions trading, saying the coalition was incapable of sticking to one position on climate change.

“The reality is the Liberal Party changes their position on the emissions trading scheme every time the headlines change,” a spokesman for Mr Rudd said.

“The Liberal Party is engaged in short-term politics when it comes to the ETS, which is bad for the economy and bad for the environment.”

Mr Rudd's spokesman said over the past 13 months the Liberals had fluctuated between 2010, 2011 and 2012 as a start date for emissions trading - and now wouldn't give a date at all.

The Australian Workers Union has also called for emissions trading to be delayed by at least two years to ensure its design is right.

As key groups get cold feet on a quick start to emissions trading, the nation's top climate change adviser Ross Garnaut reiterated his message that there was no need to delay past 2010.

Prof Garnaut says Australia has the resources to share the leadership role on tackling climate change, and has more to lose than most countries from global warming.

Prof Garnaut also took aim at NSW Treasurer Michael Costa for saying “Chicken Little” warnings about the dangers of climate change were no substitute for a proper debate.

Mr Costa says emissions trading could send electricity generators broke, and he wants free permits to pollute as compensation.

But Prof Garnaut said Mr Costa was a “well-known denier” of the science of climate change.


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